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No. 5 Tech Baseball Opens ACC Play at No. 13 Wake Forest

March 14, 2002

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ATLANTA — Georgia Tech, the nation’s fifth-ranked team according to Baseball America, opens Atlantic Coast Conference play this weekend when the Yellow Jackets visit 13th-ranked Wake Forest for a three-game series at Gene Hooks Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. The series begins on Friday at 1:30 p.m., and continues on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. each day. A live radio broadcast can be heard on WREK (91.1 FM in Atlanta) and on the internet at www.wrek.org, and live scoring and boxscores for all of Georgia Tech’s games will be available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

The Yellow Jackets rattled off seven straight wins to open the season, the team’s best start since opening 1997 with 10 straight wins, before dropping their first game of the season. Tech’s record currently stands at 14-1 after winning seven straight games following that loss. Wake Forest is 13-2 following a three-game sweep at New Orleans last weekend.

ACC play gets underway around the entire league this weekend. In addition to the Georgia Tech-Wake Forest series, Maryland visits North Carolina and top-ranked Florida State travels to Virginia for three-game series this weekend.

SERIES VS. WAKE FOREST

Georgia Tech leads Wake Forest, 47-31-1, in a series that dates back to 1898, however the Yellow Jackets are just 10-16-1 in games played in Winston-Salem. Last year, the Demon Deacons took two of three games played in Atlanta and then won the fourth meeting of the year, a 4-3 win in the third round of the ACC Tournament.

Tech dominated the series from 1991 through 1997, posting a 15-5 mark against the Deacons. However in the last four years, Wake Forest leads the series by a slim 8-7 margin.

The Yellow Jackets are 41-24-1 against the Deacons since joining the ACC in 1980, and they have won 10 of 15 series since the league adopted a three-game series format in 1987. Under head coach Danny Hall, Tech owns a 16-12 mark against Wake Forest.

ON THE HILL . . .

*Sophomore left hander Kyle Bakker (5-0, 2.06 ERA) will start the first game of the series on Friday afternoon at Hooks Stadium, making his sixth consecutive series opening start.

* Bakker was Tech’s No. 3 starter for much of the stretch run of the 2001 season before being sidelined with stiffness in his left arm for all of the Yellow Jackets’ postseason games.

* The big southpaw, who is the tallest player in the ACC at 6-9, has taken over as the No. 1 starter for Tech in 2002, and he has opened the season with consecutive wins over Georgia Southern, Tennessee Tech, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop – all teams that won games in the NCAA Tournament in 2001 – in addition Georgia State.

* In ten career starts, Bakker is 9-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 68.0 IP (17 ER). His list of victories includes Georgia Southern (twice), Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Tennessee Tech, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop, all teams that won at least one game in the NCAA Regionals in 2001.

* Saturday’s and Sunday’s starters are to be announced. Possible candidates include junior righty Jeff Watchko (2-1, 3.91 ERA), sophomore righty Brian Burks (4-0, 0.95 ERA) and freshman righty Kyle Schmidt (0-0, 1.93 ERA), among others.

SHORT HOPS

* Through 15 games, head coach Danny Hall has used 15 different starting lineups.

* Through the first month of the season, Tech leads the ACC in team ERA (2.51) and ranks fourth in the league in team batting (.319).

* Tech’s 14-1 mark to start the season is its best since opening the 1997 season with a 15-1 record. The record for most wins with only one loss came in 1992 when the Yellow Jackets opened 24-1.

*After posting a 3-7 record in one-run games in 2001, Tech is 2-0 in games decided by one run and 4-0 in games decided by two runs or less in 2002.

* A quick glance at the Tech season statistics reveals that a trio of freshmen lead Tech in batting. Eric Patterson (.400), Brandon Boggs (.386), and Clifton Remole (.375) rank 1-2-3 on the team in batting average. A fourth rookie, Jeremy Slayden (.353), is fifth in batting and is tied for the team lead with four HR.

* Collectively, Tech’s seven freshmen position players are batting .345 (79-for-229). Tech’s top four freshmen hitters – Patterson, Boggs, Remole and Slayden – are batting .378 (71-for-188).

* Tech’s eight freshman pitchers have a 3.30 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 30 innings.

* Georgia Tech opened the 2002 campaign with seven straight wins, the Yellow Jackets’ best start to a season since opening with a 10-0 record in 1997. The Tech record for most wins to start a season came in 1987 when the Yellow Jackets opened the season 16-0.

* Tech has opened the 2002 season showing off its team speed. The Yellow Jackets were a perfect 11-for-11 in the stolen base department in the first two games of the season at Georgia Southern and stand at 31-for-37 on the season.

* An opening day record crowd of 1,814 attended the first game at the new Russ Chandler Stadium on Feb. 15 against Tennessee Tech. A total 4,828 fans attended the three-game series, making it the largest three-game attendance for a series before April in Georgia Tech history. It was the second-largest three-game attendance figure for a non-conference series in school history.

* New Tech pitching coach Bobby Moranda has stressed the importance of throwing strikes. Those efforts have been displayed early in the season where Tech pitchers have walked 30 batters in 136 innings (1.99 BB per 9 IP).

* Sophomore Kyle Bakker leads the Tech staff in K/BB ratio with 40 strikeouts and just two walks in 38 innings. Bakker’s career K/BB ratio stands at 89-11.

* Tech has used 15 different pitchers already this season after having a total of 11 different pitchers see action during the 2001 season. The most pitchers that Tech has used in any one season prior to this season was 13 in both 1985 and 1996.

* Four freshmen – Eric Patterson (2B), Brandon Boggs (CF), Clifton Remole (1B) and Jeremy Slayden (DH) – were in the starting lineup for opening day. Mike Nickeas (3B) started the second game of the series at Georgia Southern, raising the total number of freshmen to start in 2002 to five. A total of 15 freshmen have seen game action so far this season.

* Tech hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning against Georgia Southern on Feb. 10. Jason Perry, Tyler Parker and Jeremy Slayden all blasted solo shots to open the inning. The last time the Yellow Jackets accomplished that feat came in 2000 when Brad Stockton, Mark Teixeira and Bryan Prince homered consecutively at Wake Forest.

HOT STARTS

Despite a roster that features 17 freshmen, Georgia Tech has opened the 2002 season with a 14-1 record. Listed below are Tech’s best records to start a season with just one loss.

BEST STARTS WITH ONLY ONE LOSS . . .1.      24-1  19922.      20-1  19903.      16-1     19874.      15-1  19975.      14-1  2002

HOME SWEET HOME

Georgia Tech has opened its new ballpark in grand fashion, posting a perfect 9-0 record in the new Russ Chandler Stadium this season. In those home games, the Yellow Jackets are batting .338 and averaging 11.2 runs per game. The Tech pitching staff has a 2.20 ERA and is holding opponents to just a .224 batting average.

FOUR EARN ALL-TOURNAMENT AT MYRTLE BEACH

Four Yellow Jackets – catcher Tyler Parker, second baseman Eric Patterson and pitchers Kyle Bakker and Brian Burks – were selected to the all-tournament team at the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach (Feb. 22-24). Tech went 2-1 in the round-robin event, finishing behind only undefeated South Carolina. Other teams in the tournament were Virginia Commonwealth and host Coastal Carolina.

BAKKER NAMED ACC PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Sophomore lefty Kyle Bakker was selected as the first ACC Player of the Week for the 2002 season following his performance at Georgia Southern on Feb. 9. The 6’9 southpaw tossed seven shutout innings, holding the Eagles to just four singles and no walks while striking out seven batters.

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